Saturday, January 16th, 2010
The reason international negotiations to tackle climate change are not working is because they have been premised on long-established norms of state sovereignty and states’ rights.
Consequently they are characterised by “diplomatic delay, minimal action -– especially relative to the scale of the problem – and mutual blame between rich and poor countries, resulting in a ‘you-go-first’ mentality that has prevailed even as global greenhouse gas emissions have exploded.”
This is Paul Harris’s perception in his book World Ethics and Climate Change: From International to Global Justice . He argues that the communitarian principle which underlies the concept of the sovereign state is too limiting to be able to deal adequately with environmental issues which extend beyond state borders. It’s not that states have completely ignored the problem of dangerous climate change.
They have recognised that collective action is required, and have agreed that climate change is a common but differentiated responsibility, with developed states obligated to act first before developing countries are expected to limit emissions. (more…)
Friday, January 15th, 2010
Scientists are reporting that biochar, which is a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago, has the potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Their report appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a bi-weekly journal.
It has only recently been realized that pyrogenic carbon or biochar or charcoal, can make up a significant fraction of the organic carbon in soils and sediments. As such, it is an important but poorly understood portion of the global carbon cycle. Biochar also may be useful as an additive to soils to enhance fertility. (more…)
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
A campaign was launched last week in which celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world communicate their hopes for life on earth by 2020. These hopes are being conveyed as part of the 2020 Vision campaign launched by Planet Positive .
The campaign provides people with the chance to express their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change.
The website also provides people with some reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. There are ten online sections, which provide information on key areas of human life such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
The Middle East’s first carbon dioxide recovery plant has been opened at the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company. This is also one of the first in the world to successfully recycle carbon dioxide air emissions. The $55 million facility at the company’s Sitra facility was formally inaugurated by Gulf chairman and adviser to the Prime Minister for oil and industrial affairs Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, in the presence of board members, company officials and guests.
Carbon dioxide is useful for many industrial operations. It can be used as a feedstock if compressed and transported and it can be used in carbonation of beverages. These are useful and productive recycling efforts but the industry using the carbon dioxide must be close by. (more…)
Monday, December 28th, 2009
Carbon dioxide air emissions is one of the big issues in global warming debate. However, before you start controlling by putting the carbon in the ground, you first have to put lawyers in a room to argue. After a year that saw billions of dollars spent around a variety of carbon capture and storage pilot projects, the focus in 2010 will shift from press conferences and engineering discussion to court cases and conference tables.
Everyone has an opinion on what is the right thing to do in global warming. Far from just an engineering decision the task of making technology an effective weapon in the fight against climate change will take a lot more than working out funding details and letting the engineers work.
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
The bitter battle over health care legislation, fears that global warming legislation could harm the weak U.S. economy, and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit to set binding CO2 emissions reductions targets will make U.S. Senate passage of a carbon cap-and-trade bill difficult in 2010, according to senators from both parties.
Politico reports that the partisan struggle over health care reform — in which 60 Democratic senators are poised to pass a bill with no Republican support — has alienated moderate Republicans whose votes are crucial to passage of climate legislation.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Reverberations from the disappointing Copenhagen climate summit continued to be felt worldwide, with political leaders blaming each other for the meeting’s outcome, U.S. senators saying that the lack of progress will make it harder for Congress to pass a climate bill, European Union carbon prices falling, and some businesses lamenting the continuing lack of uncertainty about future CO2 cuts and carbon prices.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown told an environmental meeting on Monday that a handful of countries blocked a legally binding deal on climate change, adding,
“We will not allow a few countries to hold us back. What happened at Copenhagen was a flawed decision-making process. We’ve just got to find a way of moving this process forward.”
Although Brown did not mention any countries by name, Ed Miliband, Climate Change and Energy Secretary, specifically mentioned China, noting that it had vetoed proposals calling for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80 percent cut in emissions by developed nations by mid-century. Miliband said China exercised its veto despite support for the proposal by a broad coalition of industrialized nations and the vast majority of developing nations.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
As the world weighs how to deal with warming, the idea of human manipulation of climate systems is gaining attention. Yet beyond the environmental and technical questions looms a more practical issue: How could governments really commit to supervising geoengineering schemes for centuries?
In the summer of 2006, geoengineering — the radical proposal to offset one human intervention into planetary systems with another — came roaring out of the scientific closet. Deliberate climate modification, as climate scientist Wally Broecker once noted, had long been “one of the few subjects considered taboo in the realm of scientific inquiry.”
Friday, December 18th, 2009
Saying that “the time for talk is over,” President Obama called on the 193 nations at the Copenhagen climate summit to put aside divisions and agree on a treaty to tackle the threat of global warming. “We are running short of time, and at this point the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart. Whether we prefer posturing to action. We can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year — all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible… We are ready to get this done today, but there has to be movement on all sides.”
Clearly frustrated by the lack of action as the 12-day conference drew to a close, Obama said a successful accord must contain three elements: a commitment from all major economies to make significant emissions reductions, the creation of a mechanism to verify that nations adhere to those commitments, and the establishment of a fund to help countries most vulnerable to climate change. Read the text of Obama’s speech and watch the video.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
So, in case you missed it, there is evidently some kind of climate change conference underway this week. And, its not going well. Still, even if we imagine for a moment that a binding international treaty with hard carbon caps could be salvaged from the wreckage in Copenhagen, there is more news from home in the NYT showing that the US is not up to the climate change challenge at home.
We are developing the technology, but Matthew Wald’s story about a “false start” for smart grids in California and elsewhere provides yet another lens to focus on the policy deficit that is crippling every effort at meaningful energy reform. And, with public will degraded by global recession and climate change skepticism calcifying thanks to Climategate, policymakers cannot afford many more (or, anymore?) false starts.